Rockingham County recently asked us whether we could provide a “bulk rate” for the water we sell them for resale in Countryside Estates, near Montezuma. They were selling water without any gross margin, meaning that they would need a huge rate increase just to fund some basic maintenance. We don’t offer bulk rates, because we don’t like pricing structures which encourage greater usage. Still, though, we wanted to explore possibilities, because we have a very good working relationship with the County and we wanted to help if we could do so without harming our residents. After all, the Countryside residents are our neighbors, and they dine in our restaurants and shop in our stores.
When we looked at the situation, we realized that we were selling water to the County at the same rates we charge everyone else, even though they do a whole lot of the work. They read and maintain the meters, keep all the lines in good repair, and handle all the billing and customer relations. Because they do so much of the work generally performed by us, we figured we could reduce their water rate by 40% and without creating any cross-subsidization from other customers. Council approved the rate change on Tuesday.
The Daily News-Record reported this morning that the Countryside was able to escape a massive rate increase, with the County Finance Director stating that they were “very appreciative of the work [Bridgewater] put into helping us with a reduced purchase rate. This is the contributing factor that has allowed the district to decrease the rate from the proposed.” So we feel pretty good: we helped a neighbor without hurting our existing customers.